hunger cues

What is Keto?

I realize I should have done a post with kind of an explanation about the keto diet. I think there are a lot of misconceptions about it. I didn’t know a lot about it before I started doing research and making a meal plan. The best website to start out with is Diet Doctor. My doctor recommended it.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or expert and I’m fairly new to this diet, so I suggest you talk to your doctor before starting it and do your own research. This post is just to give some information to people who may not know much about it (like I didn’t know much!).

What is the Keto Diet?

Before I started, I assumed it was basically like Atkins. High protein, super low carb. I was way wrong! The reason the Keto diet works better than just low carb is because you eat higher fat and that keeps you from being hungry or feeling run down.

Keto is high fat, low carb. But we’re not talking fat like Cheetos and pizza and cake. The fat needs to be “good fats”.

“On a ketogenic diet, your entire body switches its fuel supply to run mostly on fat, burning fat 24-7. When insulin levels become very low, fat burning can increase dramatically. It becomes easier to access your fat stores to burn them off. This is great if you’re trying to lose weight, but there are also other less obvious benefits, such as less hunger and a steady supply of energy. This may help keep you alert and focused. (source)”

Low carb, high fat/protein: This will soon put your body in ketosis, which means you will burn fat for energy instead of relying on glucose.

What Are “Good Fats”?

Olive Oil

Avocado Oil

Avocados

Nuts and Nut Butter (in moderation)

Chia Seeds, Flaxseeds

Butter/Ghee

Coconut Oil

Cheese (some of it)

Cream

Carbs on Keto

The easiest way to figure out if you are on track on the diet is to track all of your food (even things like olive oil and butter) in an app like MyFitnessPal and check the macros and nutrients. The “Net” Carbs are your total carbs for the day minus your fiber intake. For example, one day I had 35 carbs but I had 13 grams of fiber so I was at 22 net carbs for the day.

How many net carbs should you eat on keto? I’ve seen different numbers on different websites. The doctor I spoke to about my own keto diet suggested I try and hit 20 net carbs for the day. I’ve done that about half a dozen times so far but I am usually closer to about 25 net carbs. On days I work out, I am often around 30 net carbs. I’m not sure yet how that will effect my weight loss goals.

The tough part of the carb part is that there are carbs in EVERYTHING. Even vegetables. So you have to find the lowest ones possible. Things like spinach, kale, zucchini, asparagus and broccoli. The middle of the road veggies are cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, eggplant, green beans. Then there’s a bunch of vegetables that are just not allowed–sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, etc.

Fruit is limited, which is hard. Like raspberries and blackberries are low. Blueberries are a little bit higher. All other fruits are basically off the table. 🙁

Is Keto Healthy?

Is any “diet” healthy? My doctor recommended this diet. I don’t know yet that it will be a lifestyle change. I definitely feel BETTER on this diet than I have in a few years. I feel less bloated, I feel less run down. I don’t have the sugar crashes or food cravings. Eating a lot of sugar and carbs is NOT healthy. So whatever diet you choose, those things should definitely be limited anyways.

“Doctors may put children who have epilepsy on a ketogenic diet, a special high-fat, very low-carb and protein plan, because it might help prevent seizures. Adults with epilepsy sometimes eat modified Atkins diets.

Some research suggests that ketogenic diets might help lower your risk of heart disease. Other studies show specific very-low-carb diets help people with metabolic syndromeinsulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. Researchers are also studying the effects of these diets on acnecancerpolycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and nervous system diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Lou Gehrig’s disease. (source)”

I think this is a diet that should be discussed with a doctor first. I think if you are prone to things like kidney stones or gallbladder issues, a high fat diet might cause issues. But I’m not a doctor so definitely talk to YOUR doctor. I will say it’s super important to drink a LOT of water on this diet.

FAQ

Can I drink alcohol? Yes, obviously in moderation. And there are only certain things that are allowed. Whiskey, vodka, red wine. Those are low in carbs or have no carbs. But of course this shouldn’t be an every night kind of a thing because alcohol will slow down your weight loss no matter how low in carbs they are.

Can I have chocolate? The super dark chocolate. 72% dark has 4 net carbs in it, 86% dark has 3 net carbs.

How do I know if I’m in Ketosis? They have monitors (I’m not going to go that hardcore). Some other signs: decreased appetite, bad breath, dry mouth, short-term fatigue, increased focus and energy, digestive issues.

Do I need to buy a lot of supplements? Not really. They sell a bunch of stuff but is it necessary? Probably not. I suggest fish oil just in general. Magnesium if you find you are constipated from the keto diet. A lot of keto websites push collagen and while I’ve been taking a collagen vitamin for a while now, I have yet to see any real difference so I have no idea why it’s necessary. MCT oil is one that I would recommend. It goes in your coffee and is a good way to get some fat in your diet with breakfast.

Where can I find keto friendly food? It’s hard at first. Looking at labels is really important. There are brands out there that are keto friendly. And check out Primal Kitchen. They have keto/paleo stuff.

Final Thoughts

Every body is different. I know so many people that have tried different diets out there and did well on certain things and they didn’t work for me. My body did not work well on a vegetarian diet. That’s MY body. But I know several people that are super healthy vegan/vegetarians. Not every diet works for every person. That’s why this is such a personal thing.

When I lost 110 pounds I counted my calories and ate everything in moderation. That worked well for me. It wasn’t restrictive. But I was also obese, I was in my 20’s, I was single and didn’t have a family, my time was my own and I could focus 100% on my goals. This time around, it’s been a lot harder to lose 30 pounds. You’d think it would be easier to lose 30 pounds compared to 110. But my body is different after having a baby. My hormones are different. My life is different. I’m almost 40. I had to try something different to see if that worked.

Talk to your doctor, try it out and make your own decision and see if it works for you. Sometimes change is good!

Diet Update #1

I’m about 2 weeks in to the low carb diet reboot. I wanted to do an update, but first, wanted to thank everyone who left comments and facebook messages about the diet. It was nice to hear what worked for other people!

When I started this blog, it wasn’t a weight loss blog. I just wanted to share my story of how I lost 110 pounds and kept it off. There aren’t a lot of maintenance blogs out there. A lot of the healthy living blogs I used to read diligently either don’t really blog anymore, or I’ve seen them kind of spiral into very disordered practices, or regaining all the weight back. I don’t dismiss the fact that maintenance is hard–you have to work at it every day–but for me, maintenance has been easier than losing this time around.

Quick recap: when I tried this lower carb diet back in the Spring, I lost 7 or 8 pounds right away. It was very encouraging. Then it stalled and I kept gaining and losing the same 2 pounds for the next few months.

So when I started this diet again a few weeks ago, I was around 170. I lost 2 pounds the first week! That was awesome!

I weighed in on 10/18 and was really happy to see another loss! I was down another 2 pounds! 166.6 pounds (does that number mean something?!?! LOL), which is the lowest I’ve been since I got pregnant! That means I have 9 pounds to lose to get back to my pre-baby weight!

 

What I’ve Been Doing

  1. I cut out sugar snacks and treats. Not 100% but close. I’ve had a few things here and there but I’m really happy that I’ve been staying strong and either skipping dessert most nights or having fruit or yogurt instead.
  2. I’m logging everything. I’m pretty good at tracking–I’ve done it for 15+ years and it’s just second nature now. But I am recommitted to being accurate–that means tracking the snacks and nibbles, too!
  3. No bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, etc. The carbs I am eating are from fruit and my Greek yogurt and coffee creamer (never cutting the creamer out!).
  4. Trying to drink more water. I am okay at this during the week at work but at home on the weekends and in the evenings I am NOT good at it. 🙁
  5. No alcohol Monday-Thursday nights. I wasn’t really in a habit of drinking during the week but some weeks I’d find myself having a glass of wine on a Tuesday when I didn’t really need to. I don’t necessarily see that as a larger problem but I do think it was a waste of calories. So I am limited my 2 glasses of wine to weekends.
  6. Trying to eat smart. Eating a lot of protein and veggies and trying to eat more healthy fats.

 

Challenges

It’s definitely felt easier this time around to try low carb. Maybe because I knew what to expect, maybe because I was seeing immediate progress, not sure. Other than feeling like total shit that first week, it’s been pretty easy this time. I don’t feel deprived. I don’t crave bread too much.

  1. I am getting sick of salads for lunch. I have been trying to come up with other ideas but I need something that’s fast and easy to prep and often times that’s just a protein and a salad.
  2. It’s been a challenge to get more fiber in my diet since I’m limiting fruit (I used to eat an apple every day and that’s pretty high in fiber, for example) and eating only certain types of veggies.
  3. I do miss bread. I am not craving it like mad, but I do miss it.
  4. I HATE that soup is so high in carbs!!! Why?!??! Even a vegetable beef stew is high in carbs! I live on soup in the colder months and I’m bummed I can’t seem to find any options. 🙁 If you have ideas, tell me!
  5. I miss buying stuff at Trader Joe’s! There were a ton of things I’d buy every time I’d go but they are not on the diet now so…

The biggest challenge so far? Running on a low carb diet freakin’ sucks. 🙁 I have no energy, it feels like a slog, I sometimes feel light headed, I totally crash from hunger afterwards…I need to figure out an alternative on days I run. Maybe I try carb cycling and eat more carbs before I run. I don’t know…

I am doing a cheat day/meal once a week or so. I think this is important so that I don’t feel 100% deprived, which can lead to a binge.

Week 1 cheat meal was our taco and beer date. 😀

Week 2 cheat meal was pizza!